Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Winter birds

Beautiful winter weather here in Daintree with cool nights, foggy mornings and clear warm days - just the way we like it! I must say, though, that it is about time after 6 months of wet weather and making it to 3.7 metres of rain so far for the year. Everything is starting to dry out, which is very satisfying, considering the amount of mould we have had to deal with this year.

The garden is also starting to reshoot quite nicely after the cyclone. We still have a few stumps and chunks of wood to move, but things are looking better.
One of the effects of having a cyclone go through is that it wipes out all the fruit and flowers in the forest and the garden for several weeks, if not months. It's hard work keeping up with bananas and pawpaws, coconuts, seed and nectavite for all the hungry honeyeaters, friarbirds, drongos, riflebirds, doves, scrub fowl and turkeys that are standing around rattling their feed bowls every morning!
Even the scrubfowl have taken to jumping up onto the feeders.

We have never seen so many Victoria's Riflebird (female only, unfortunately) in the garden as this year. This poor girl hit a window, but survived to tell the tale.

Victoria's Riflebird (female)

Fortunately some of the palms are starting to fruit again, so the riflebirds are having daily disputes with the figbirds and orioles for each fruit as it ripens.

A visit from a lovely Amethystine Python this week as it warmed up in the sun for a while before disappearing into the shed. Only about 2 metres in length and not very big. Some horrible 'frog-strangling'- type noises from up high a couple of days ago suggests that it hasn't gone far.

Amethystine Python

Good news for birding locally with good sightings of Little Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Great-billed Heron all on the Daintree River and some great winter specials such as White-eared Monarch and Black-faced Monarch also. Spotted Whistling Ducks (2) also on the river for a day or so, but not seen since.
Great sightings of Southern Cassowary north of the Daintree River at various locations such as The Icecream Company, the Beach House and Jindalba Boardwalk. It seems that the sub-adults have been sent away and are looking for their own territory - several have been seen alone in the last week or so.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Wompoo Fruit-Dove and Fairy Gerygone are birds of note in the garden at Red Mill House as well as the Victoria's Riflebird.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Back - - and into it!!

After a rather turbulent first half of the year, we are back at Red Mill House, ready for the season ahead.
Our old friends Peter and Vicki, who were looking after Red Mill for us, and our beloved Silvia busted their proverbials to make the place look as good as possible before we returned. Bless 'em!
It still breaks the heart to see the broken-off tree tops and the great holes where there were once trees, and the stumps still lying there, and having coconuts dominating the skyline rather than rainforest trees, and being able to see cars drive past - -  - but they have done a great job cleaning up, removing rubbish, painting etc. We are very grateful to them all.

To first-time visitors Red Mill House looks just fine.

And - in this climate the holes will fill again fairly quickly with something that has been waiting for the opportunity to get some light and get going, for a long time. And - - - I'll have enough light to grow a few vegetables!! Give it a couple of years - - - - - .

The rain has kept going, with now 3.7metres of rain recorded for the year to date. The odd dry and beautiful day here and there, and hopefully that will improve as the 'dry' season sets in.

Lots of exciting things happening for us - a new Daintree Regional map which will be printed in the next few days, and a new Red Mill House website to go live in the next few days - both of which we have been working hard on.

Birdwise - Cyclone Ita has taken so much of our fruit and flowers from the forest that we can't keep up with the nectar feeders and fruit trays. It is certainly a good opportunity to get a close look at our honeyeaters et al as they squabble for food. There are opportunities to see Victoria's Riflebird, Red-necked Crake, Azure Kingfisher and others in the garden. The river is a little quite at present, but will start to flourish again soon with some fine weather. Good Cassowary sightings north of the Daintree River.

Our UK trip was fabulous with the Birdquest trip along the west coast of the UK and up through the Outer Hebrides living up to our expectations. Puffins, Guillimots, Razorbills, Gannets etc galore and the great opportunity to see the sea stacks and breeding colonies. Also managed to catch up with wonderful birds like Chough, Corncrake, Ptarmigan while in Scotland. We loved the wilderness in Scotland and sacrificed a few nights in London to stay in the Sottish Highland area of the Cairngorms for a bit longer, while the weather remained favourable.

Now, back to work for the year!!!